Salem Selectmen voted 4-1 on Jan. 14 to finally pull out of a regional planning initiative that has been debated back and forth for months.
The planning project, titled Granite State Future, will still go forward. Salem will just not have a seat at the table at the discussions.
Selectman Stephen Campbell said that he does not subscribe to the philosophies of the group nor does he believe that Salem's voice will be heard if the town was a member.
He said that Granite State Future's outcomes are pre-determined by their philosophies.
"You don't have to believe in conspiracies to disagree with the philosophy behind this," Campbell said. "They appeared to not be impressed with private property rights or private water rights and they want to do all of this collectively."
The town waited since early October for correspondence from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The question the town posed was how the program would commit Salem to the federal government.
Greg Carson, New Hampshire Field Office Director for HUD, apologized for the length of time that it took for a response.
"It took months where it should have taken weeks or days so I apologize," he said, explaining that by federal government rule, legal opinions are not given to cities or towns.
Carson sent a letter to the board members on Jan. 14 reinforcing that Salem is neither a grantee nor a sub-grantee with HUD under the terms of the memorandum of understanding.
New Hampshire's nine regional planning commissions have come together for the project, with Nashua's commission as lead contact with the federal Housing & Urban Development department.
HUD awarded the planning commissions a $3.37 million grant through their Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program.
"We find it would be disappointing if Salem were not able to at least participate in the discussion at the table," he said.
Selectman Mike Lyons said that the project will go forward with or without Salem.
He did not support the motion to remove the town from its association with the project, saying that he believes that party politics are being introduced.
"I have an impression that national and state party politics are being introduced at this local level," he said, adding that the Selectmen work as non-partisans.
The October discussion on Granite State Future brought out numerous citizens from both Salem and the surrounding area who had strong opinions on the program.